This section is from the book "Aphrodisiacs And Anti-Aphrodisiacs", by John Davenport. Also available from Amazon: Love Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs and Anti-aphrodisiacs.
The means best calculated to produce effects contrary to those just treated of are of several kinds, but such as are derived from hygiene are entitled to be considered as the most powerful. Previously, however, to describing the medicinal substances that may be efficaciously employed in moderating, or rather checking, too violent a propensity to venery, some notice must be taken of the diet adapted to insure such a result.
The use of milk, vegetables, such as lettuce, water-purslain, cucumbers, etc., and especially of fruit in which the acid principle predominates, slackens the movement of the heart and of the sanguineous system; it diminishes the animal heat, the chief source of which is in the activity of the circulation; it produces a feeling of tranquillity and of coolness; the respiration being more slow, occasions the absorption of a less quantity of oxygen, add to which, as a less quantity of reparative materials is contained in this description of aliments, there result a less active nutrition, the loss of enbonpoint and the complete prostration of every principle of irritability; in short, it is of all diets the one least capable of furnishing fuel to the passions. For common drink mere water, and, if the impulse of passion should increase, a small quantity of nitre, vinegar, or vitrolic acid, may, occasionally be added to the water to make it more cooling.
Other means conducive to the same end are a laborious life, much bodily exercise, little sleep, and a spare diet, so that the fluids may be more easily conducted to other parts, and that there may not be produced a greater quantity than is requisite for the support of the body. Equally valuable"
"When there's a young and sweating devil That commonly rebels," will be found what Shakespeare recommends -
"A sequester from liberty, fasting and prayer, Much castigation, exercise devout." * Should the desire of committing excesses rise to any height, immediate recourse must be had to some serious and mind-absorbing occupation, less nutritious food and drink should be taken, all dishes peculiarly stimulating to the palate avoided, as well as the use of wine and other spirituous liquors.
A cool regimen in every respect was particularly insisted upon by the ancients: hence Plato and Aristotle recommended the custom of going barefoot as a means of checking the stimulus to carnal desire, a suggestion which appears to have been acted upon by some of the monkish orders. The cold bath was considered equally efficacious, while some, among whom may be reckoned Pliny and Galen, advised thin sheets of lead to be worn on the calves of the legs and near the kidneys.
The first and most important of the hygienic means consists in shunning every species of excitement and in having little or no communication with the sex, and the earlier such restraint is imposed, the better. "He that is chaste and continent, not to impair his strength, or terrified by contagion, will hardly be heroically virtuous. Adjourn not that virtue until those years when Cato could lend out his wife, and impotent satyrs write satires against lust - but be chaste in thy flaming clays, when Alexander dared not trust his eyes upon the fair sisters of Darius, and when so many men think that there is no other way than that of Origen."* †
* Othello, Act iii.Sc. 10.
The next means is that of carefully abstaining from the per-sual of all publications calculated to inflame the passions, by which publications are meant, not obscene books only. With respect to these, indeed, a great error obtains, for the persons most anxious to peruse them are, for the most part, old, worn-out debauchees, men whose generative powers are, comparatively, feeble, if not altogether destroyed, and who, unfortunately for themselves, require this unnatural and detestable kind of stimulus, while, on the contrary, young men and those in middle life, who had not drawn too largely upon their constitution, and for whom the allurements of nature are themselves a sufficient provocative, regard such publications with horror and disgust. It is not, therefore, we repeat, works of this description which we allude to, but those the perusal of which is more dangerous during the period of the passions - novels, more especially such as, under the pretext of describing the working of the human heart, draw the most seducing and inflammatory pictures of illicit love, and throw the veil of sentimental philosophy over the orgies of debauchery and licentiousness. Nothing is more perilous to youth, especially of the female sex, than this description of books.
Their style is chaste, not one word is found that can offend the ear, while the mind of the unsuspecting reader is often tainted and corrupted by the most impure ideas and descriptions clothed in the most elegant phraseology. How admirably does Voltaire stigmatise this attention to a mere superficial (if the epitaph be allowed) purity I"Plus," says he "les moeurs sont depraves, plus les expressions deviennent mesurees: on croit de gagner en langage ce qu'on a perdu en vertu. La pudeur s'est enfuite des coeurs et s'est refugiee sur les levres".
* Sir Thos. Browne's Works, Vol. III., p. 89, Bonn's Edit.
† Origen, one of the Fathers of the Church, born in a.d. 185, is a melancholy proof how far the reason may be perverted by erroneous views in religious matters; for according to Fulgos, "ut corpus ab omni venerea labe mundum servaret, omnique suspicione careret, seeds genitalibus raembris, eunuchum se fecit."He, however, lived long enough to condemn his error. See his 15th sermon upon St. Matthew, cap, 19, v. 12; his work against Celsus, lib. 7; and his 7th Treatise upon the l8th and 19th Chapters of St. Matthew.
There are two kinds of study particularly adapted to preserve the mind and the affections from the assaults of vice and libidi-nousness. The first of these is the Mathematics, whose efficacy in this respect has been proved by frequent experience. The Venetian lady mentioned by Rousseau in his"Confessions"was not ignorant of this their power, when, seeing the singular effect which her charms had produced upon the, as yet, youthful philosopher, said to him, "Gianetto, lascia le donne e studio la matiwatica." "James, give up the ladies, and apply yourself to mathematics." It will, indeed, be found that, in all ages, mathematicians have been but little disposed or addicted to love, and the most celebrated among them, Sir Isaac Newton, is reputed to have lived without ever having had sexual intercourse. The intense mental application required by philosophical abstraction forcibly determines the nervous fluid towards the intellectual organs, and hinders it from being directed towards those of reproduction.